San Francisco public officials love — and we mean really, really love — to dabble in bold social experiments. Whether they're trying out a novel scheme for government-controlled electricity service, legally enshrining the right of cats to keep their nails intact, or preserving the slowest public-transportation system in the history of humankind, the boys and girls at City Hall like to get their first.
Of course, it's in the nature of experimentation that your projects don't always go as planned. Cue another favorite pasttime of the pols at City Hall: public hearings on the efficacy of bold social experiments. In that vein, city supervisors are taking some time this week to revisit to headline-making San Francisco initiatives: The city's plastic-bag ban and efforts by the school district and district attorney's office to reduce truancy.
At the full Board of Supervisors meeting tomorrow, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi — author of 2007 legislation that reduced the use of those flimsy plastic bags you used to be able to get at supermarkets — is proposing a new bill that seeks to address some of the law's unintended consequences. According to the ordinance, the ban has resulted in some stores simply handing out thicker plastic bags (which can be defined as “reusable” under the 2007 law) which people then proceed to throw away like the old ones. In other words, the bag ban hasn't resulted in fewer plastic sacks going into landfills; it's just made them heftier.